DIAMONDS, in general, are not at all rare. The De Beers cartel would prefer you didn’t know this, but annual world production of gem-quality diamond exceeds sixty million carats. This equals twelve metric tons and would fill about 145 bushel baskets. Consider that the next time you pony up a few thousand dollars for an engagement ring stone.
But strongly colored diamonds, called fancies, can be genuinely scarce. About one carat out of every 10,000 sold is a fancy. These shades include yellow, green, blue, orange, brown (“champagne”), purple, gray, black (called carbonado, recently shown to be meteoric), milky white, pink and red. Red is by far the rarest. There are around thirty-five red diamonds currently known and most weigh under half a carat. The largest is the Moussaieff Red at 5.11 carats, cut from a 14-carat rough found by a Brazilian farmer and displayed at the Smithsonian in 2003. Per carat prices for natural, untreated red diamonds have so far ranged from about $800,000.00 to $1.9 million which makes this substance one of the world’s most concentrated nonradiological forms of wealth. Most of the time these stones are unavailable at any price, though there were reports in 2002 of a new discovery in the Lipetsk region of Russia.